2016: Filling My Life With Passion

2016: Filling My Life With Passion

Passion: noun – a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something

Passion. It’s been right there, right under the surface, tickling my skin to get out. It’s been on the horizon, waiting, lurking, stalking me until I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

The word has been taunting me for weeks. I’ve made lists of options for this year’s word that will, hopefully, guide me through the 366 days of 2016. None of the words stuck out like passion. They just didn’t grab me by the arm and run through a field of poppies with me like PASSION did.

It basically chose itself.

But if I had to guess, passion does that. When you have it and it infiltrates every part of your life, it chooses its own path and guides you along.

This year, I want to parent with passion. I want to love with passion. I want to be passionate about work and maybe even find that *thing* that fills my soul.

In looking back over the past years, I can say that the words that I’ve chosen to guide my year have impacted my life. They’ve become little guys that sit on my shoulder like those good angel/bad angel guys in cartoons. And even years later, they stick with me.

So here’s to adding Passion to the growing list of life-guiding words.

2015WordPassion

 

(Adding this to Nicole’s One Word post)

2015: The Gloriously Weird Year of Finding Myself, Divorcing, and Turning 40

2015: The Gloriously Weird Year of Finding Myself, Divorcing, and Turning 40

What a weird year this has been.

I mean, I knew it was weird, but then looking back through my photos and calendar… wow. It’s been a doozy.

I’ve been rather quiet here over the course of 2015, my words few and far between. Much has gone on that hasn’t been for public consumption. My (now) ex-husband and I have never made our private matters public, especially in this space, so starting now would have been odd. When we decided very early this year to separate, that things weren’t ok, my words left me. My mind was on overdrive and well, elsewhere.

The year started very restlessly. I was restless and unsettled. I was unhappy. He was unhappy. And in somewhat of short order, all things considered, we remedied it with separation and then divorce. Not that it’s anybody’s business, but none of this life-changing event was a spur of the moment decision. There was talk and therapy and energy sessions and crying and rethinking and in the end, our guts and hearts won out. We knew what we had to do.

Jason and I are better friends now than we have been in years, probably. He’s still my cheerleader and I’m still his. We spend holidays together and do things as a family, because let’s be honest, we always will be one. We share children and memories and grief and joys that only the two of us can ever share. We want the best for each other. We are so much better for Henry this way and our only goals are for him and for each of us to be happy. That’s all anybody wants, right?

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I want to take you on a journey through 2015, though.

Let’s talk while we walk through the year, shall we?

January 2015

January 2015

January was kicked off with a Resolution Run with Sharon that I believe we both resolved to never EVER again run. It’s miraculous we survived. Henry won “Cubmaster’s Choice” at the Pinewood Derby for best looking car. Yes, it’s sushi. No, it’s not edible. Yes, it’s badass.

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February 2015

Oh, February. Jason and I decided over Valentine’s Dinner that we should separate. We’d been back and forth on it, but Valentine’s dinner, while everybody was oohing and aahing over each other at the two-top tables around us, we decided we had to do it. And then we toasted each other. Weird.

Miranda and I held auditions for the Listen To Your Mother Show and I finished my 4th half marathon. Barely. Let’s not discuss the race, but instead let me say how much fun I had with Rachel, Sharon, and Melissa that weekend (and #TeamRMHC)!

The Toomer’s Oaks were replanted in Auburn and we headed over for that big occasion. And then it snowed. And the city of Atlanta shut down.

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March 2015

March saw us figuring out the logistics and details of our separation. We were still living together because of those logistics. That may have been the strangest period of the whole deal. Knowing that you’re apart, but you’re still in the same house. We had distractions, though. Scout things, the boys camping, my niece and I going to NYC to celebrate her birthday. Jasmine and I had the best time! Columbia, Serendipity, Shopping, Broadway!

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April 2015

And then there was April. I don’t think I was even at home during April. Ten days after being in NYC with Jasmine, I was back for the Listen To Your Mother book launch. How much fun was THIS? It was such an amazing 24 hours, I don’t even know where to start! So I won’t bother. But it was amazing to hang out with Neil and Alexandra, Ann, Taya, Melisa… the list goes on. It was a 24 hour trip but so much good was squeezed in!

Then we had our second Listen To Your Mother Show in Atlanta. Which was so beautiful. We had a fantastic cast of 13 women who delivered some of the most heartfelt stories I’ve ever heard. So thrilled to bring it back this next April.

Then there was drinking (much) bourbon with Vikki (and others) at Mom2.0 and visiting with my friend Andrea in Phoenix. Such a busy month!

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May 2015

Basically, in May, I had superpowers that would make me lazy and we celebrated what would have been Charlie’s 12th birthday. May was apparently the opposite of April!

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June 2015

June saw a new family of ducks in our pond out back, a weekend with the girls, and a trip to my sister’s. So clearly “family” was the theme!

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July 2015

July is Peach Month. That’s when the best peaches are available. So we ate them almost right off the tree. I don’t think I’ve eaten as many peaches before as I did this past summer. Henry went to Camp Winnataska again and loved it.

I spent a weekend in NYC again, this time with Neil. I guess you could say this was about when our long time friendship was turning into more than just friendship. (Again, not really anybody’s business, but Jason and I agreed that we could date people while we were separated. So we both did.)

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August 2015

Back to School, with a saxaphone, in August. Plus another trip to NYC and just doing life, one day at a time. We decided to file for divorce.

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September 2015

September was obviously full of fun because the only picture worth posting was of flowers I bought myself at Whole Foods. Which means I paid way too much for them, but whatever, they’re gorgeous and made me feel good. Jason and I, still married technically, celebrated our 17th anniversary with a high five and a PBR because we’re classy like that.

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October 2015

Football game with my mom and Henry. Type A Conference in Atlanta. Henry got a job walking the dog next door after school. Neil came to Atlanta for a long weekend. And I donned a blue wig for Halloween. Oh, October!

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November 2015

November started off with Henry’s 11th birthday party. Another Game Truck party which is God’s gift to moms across the country or wherever Game Trucks are. Seriously. They back in and open the doors and PARTY!

In November, I watched one of my dearest friends say “I do” to the man she loves. I taught my niece how to properly watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And while at my sister’s house for Thanksgiving, my family celebrated my 40th birthday (a little early).

November 18, our final divorce decree was signed and stamped and official. Again, we celebrated with a high five.

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December 2015

Oh, December. Henry and I found and loved and decorated our own tree. We did it all by ourselves and were so super proud! We made a few new traditions in the process.

I celebrated my FORTIETH birthday on December 9. (I know, I don’t look a day over 27) I was in New York with Neil and we celebrated at dinner with some friends we both know through blogging and Listen To Your Mother. It was such a fun night and weekend.

Christmas came, on schedule. Santa came. Jason joined us and we Christmassed together and it was nice. We had clearly been good this year. I guess Santa liked how well we’ve handled ourselves throughout the year.

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This past year has taught me some things. Mostly that my gut and my heart are always right. I’m grateful to my energy healer and the therapist I briefly saw, for helping me realize the difference between what my heart was telling me and what my head was telling me. Often, your head tells you the easy thing, not the thing that will make you the happiest and take the most courage.

At the end of the day, 2015 was absolutely glorious, and taught me that I’m far more brave and far more resilient than I ever dreamed. I’m not scared of being a single mom. I’m not scared of not being able to live the life I’ve lived for the last 17 years. I’m certainly not scared of the future. I’m excited. Super. Freaking. Excited. Do I know what it holds? Hell no. Do you? If so, I’d like for you to read my palm and tell me some lottery numbers!

I’m ushering in 2016 knowing that anything — ANYthing — can happen. It may be amazing or it may be mundane, but it will be done my way. It will be full of so many things and I plan to do them all with passion and mindfulness and the realization that THIS moment IS life. I only get one and I plan to make it good.

So cheers to a fresh slate, a new decade of life, a blank page in a new notebook, and a new pen.

Let’s do this, 2016.

Sweet & Salty with Uncommon Goods

Sweet & Salty with Uncommon Goods

One of my favorite places to shop online has been Uncommon Goods. For years, I’ve gotten giddy-excited when a catalog showed up in my mailbox and have spent way too much time perusing their various gift guides on their website. I’ve teamed up with Uncommon Goods to share some fun gift ideas for upcoming occasions.

When they sent me the most amazing necklace set – The Sweet & Salty Necklace Set for Friends – I knew exactly who one of the necklaces was going to. (note: I was given the necklace, but opinions and thoughts are my own)

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They’re the most charming pieces by designer Elizabeth Suda, made from “Vietnam War–era plane parts and bombs, metal that was fairly traded and honed into delicate jewelry, clearing Laos farmland of war debris and serving as a sweet reminder of friendship in the process.”

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Yesterday, I met Karen and her family at The Varsity. I’d been pondering which of us would get “Sweet” and which would get “Salty” since we’re both a little bit, well, sweet AND salty! So without looking at them, I placed them on the table (where I had just devoured a cheese Dog, onion rings, a frosted orange, and a peach pie.) (what? it’s the holidays.) and on 3, we each touched the one we felt was supposed to be ours.

Luckily, we chose different ones!

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So now, officially, I’m “Sweet” and Karen is “Salty.” As it should be, I believe!

I can honestly say, as a jeweler’s daughter who has seen a lot of friendship jewelry come and go over the years, this is the most fun one yet!

J&K_Sweet&Salty

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Uncommon Goods, on top of offering the most hilarious, perfect, and perfectly ridiculous gifts, is actually a company committed to Good. They believe that sustainability starts with integrity in everything they do, both inside the company and outside. Their work with artists and small manufacturers allows them to know their products are thoughtful and made in responsible manners. In fact, everything about their mission makes me want to work for them!

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Christmas may be over, but you know what? There are occasions coming up, y’all. And Uncommon Goods has something for every. single. one. of them. One stop shop and all that!

I popped over to a few of the gift guides they have set up and found some favorites.

Valentine’s Day is soon. I mean, let’s get real, they’ve had Valentine’s candy out in the grocery store for two weeks now. It’s time to think about what you’ll be getting that special someone.

I do have a special someone I’ll be buying for this year, so looking through the Valentine’s Day list, I found a few things that caught my eye.

The Travel Stub Diary

The Travel Stub Diary for remembering our fun little visits to museums, shows, and other fun places!

I popped over to the “Gifts For Boyfriends and Guys” guide and found some other fun things!

Eye Glasses Holder

Eye Glasses Holder – For the Four Eyes in your life who always loses his (or her) glasses.

Driftwood iPhone Charging Dock

Driftwood iPhone Charging Dock – Who doesn’t need a charging dock that is made of driftwood?

And then there’s my favorite collection ever… the Jewelry!

As a jeweler’s daughter, I’m a little funny about my jewelry. Everything I own, means something to me. That’s why I love Uncommon Goods and their selection so much. Everything has a story.

Here are some favorites (in case anyone is wondering what to get me).

Sterling Silver Wings Bangle  "She took the leap and built her wings on the way down"

Sterling Silver Wings Bangle
“She took the leap and built her wings on the way down”

I can’t wait to regroup and get my mind focused on the next occasions and shop myself silly!

What would YOU buy from Uncommon Goods for someone on your list (or yourself)?

Holly Jolly New Traditions

Holly Jolly New Traditions

Life is different this Christmas.

Henry and I decided it would be fun to start some holly jolly new traditions for the two of us as far as decorating for Christmas goes. It’s always been a big evening for us as a family and we want to keep it as an important part of our year, but do things in a new way! I mean, change is fun, huh?

After school on Friday, we headed to the Walmart in Dunwoody to take part in Clark’s Christmas Kids. If you’re not familiar, every Christmas, Clark Howard and News/Talk WSB join with the Georgia Department of Family and Children’s Services to provide gifts for the foster kids all across Georgia.

Henry has a job walking our neighbor’s dog every day after school and when he gets paid on Fridays, we separate his money into Spend, Save, and Give envelopes. He had $27 in his Give envelope and chose to use it to buy Christmas gifts for a child his age who may not have any gifts under the tree this year. Carefully, he looked at the lists of about 5 different 11 year old boys and chose Avery.

With list in hand, we set off to see what we could buy. He ended up with the Simon game that was on the list. Luckily, he caught that it needed AA batteries and he grabbed some of those, too. I can thank my Dad for him knowing to do that. Rock never shows up for a holiday where a battery-needing toy is given without a stash of batteries!

Once he paid, we dropped the list and gifts back at the table where dozens of people were picking up lists and dropping off gifts. If you’re in Atlanta and have a chance to see and participate in this, please do so. It’s such a gift — to these kids AND to yourself.

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Then we headed to the Big John’s Christmas Trees lot in Dunwoody. We LOVE Big John’s. They have the best trees and we’ve bought from them for years (even when we lived in Macon and Fort Valley).

It took Henry about 7 seconds to find our tree.

While I looked for the perfect one that spoke to me and that would hold all my beautiful ornaments and be just like all the other ones we’ve ever had, Henry found THE ONE.

It was about 5 feet tall with a big gap in the middle and a little scrawny. It was smaller than everything else out there and well, looked kinda sad. I kinda wanted to say, “Bless your heart,” to the poor tree.

I tried to talk him out of it, but he said with conviction, “Nobody else is going to buy this tree because it’s not as beautiful as the other trees and then it’s going to be lonely and sad and we’re going to get this one.”

Ok then! We grabbed Chinese food and headed home.

We were able to get the tree off the car and into the stand and into the house by ourselves. Really, Henry did it all, but of course, I gave advice and helicoptered until I realized he WANTED to do it by himself.

The tree stood perfectly straight on the first try, we placed it in the corner, and ate Chinese food while we watched Elf.

This morning, we lit and decorated and squint-tested the tree and you know? It’s possibly the most beautiful tree ever! (Oh, and Watkins the elf came in sometime during the night and toppled down the tree. I think he may have been drinking a little.)

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Our tree is small and mighty, but it holds so much love and hope for our future. It showed me that we can do it by ourselves, and that change, while a little scary, can be so much fun!

We’ve decked our halls and are thrilled with our holly jolly new traditions!

 

What I’ve Enjoyed Reading Lately!

I’ve started having a love affair with my Kindle app on my phone. I read at night. I read in the bathroom. I read when I’m sitting in the school pick-up line.

I read what people suggest. And I read what my friends write.

Most of the time, I can’t remember what happened in the book two days later, but for the hours that it takes to read one of these novels, I’m fully engaged and living life with the characters. It’s a lovely escape.

Here are a few of my recent favorites. And yes, they are affiliate links. If you purchase through these, my Starbucks habit doesn’t have to be broken. Mwah! Happy reading, y’all!

One Plus One: A Novel by Jojo Moyes

Cancel the Wedding: A Novel by Carolyn T. Dingman

Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel by Jessica Knoll

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Like No Other by Una LaMarche

Landline: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell

Take My Husband, Please: A Romantic Comedy by Kimberly Jayne

The Last Letter from Your Lover: A Novel by Jojo Moyes

The Girl You Left Behind: A Novel by Jojo Moyes

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (I highly recommend the hardback copy of this book so you can underline and highlight and draw in it!)

After You: A Novel by Jojo Moyes (sequel to Me Before You)

Divorce: A Love Story by Jonathan Weiler and Anne Menkens

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